Tarren walked over the blue stone through the marketplace. A man with dirt on his face and drab brown clothes started walking alongside Tarren. “Excuse me, but do you know the time?”
Tarren looked down at the watch on his right wrist and put his hand up to the watch with his pointer finger on the right side of the watch and his middle finger on the left side. “Yes I do. It’s a quarter past four.”
The other man looked back and forth and dropped his voice down to a whisper. “We’re meeting tonight at nine at the baker’s house.” With that the man turned and walked back into the crowd.
Tarren nodded to himself and then muttered, “Well, that gives me some time at least to find an excuse that Eugene will believe.” He continued walking past the colorful awnings and marketers crying out their goods. he was offered watches, blankets, a dented and beat up pot that the merchant claimed was the finest that Tarren would find. He ignored them all because he was here for a specific reason. That and his pockets were empty.
Tarren made his way to a building made from stone, one of the few permanent structures in the market place. Smoke rose up from the chimney, and the door creaked when Tarren pushed it open. A thin man with an apron tied over his white shirt and brown pants was pulling bread out of a large brick oven with a large wooden paddle. The gray-haired man stood up and turned around when he heard the door creak open. A large smile crossed his kindly face when he saw Tarren, and he slid the bread off the paddle and onto the counter before leaning the paddle against the wall next to the oven. He wiped his hands off on his apron and walked over to Tarren. “Tarren, it is good to see you again, my friend. How are you today?”
Tarren smiled right back. “I’m doing well, Obadiah. You know, they do have machines that could make the bread for you, there is no reason for you to work so hard, or pay for the wood that you need to run that thing.”
Obadiah shook his head. “How many times do I have to tell you, Tarren. Those machines make bread, I make art. Those machines with all of their coils and gears can’t make anything as delicious as I can with my own two hands. That’s why my bakery is the most popular one in all of the Coricopon system. Enough of that, though. How are things going for Eugene at the orphanage?”
Tarren frowned. “Things are tough. Conditions are bad in the mines, so we get new orphans almost weekly, and the government is cutting back on how much assistance we get. Money is tight, so I’m looking for a job to help out a bit. I don’t suppose you know anyone who is looking for some help running their shop?”
Obadiah shook his head. “Sorry, Tarren; shop jobs are a highly envied position. They get filled almost as soon as they open up. I’ll keep my ears open for you though.” Obadiah pulled a sack from behind the counter and handed it to Tarren.
Tarren opened the sack and looked inside. “There must be some mistake; there’s only two loaves of bread in here.”
Obediah frowned. “I’m sorry, Tarren, but business was good yesterday, and that’s all I have left from my day-olds. I wish I could do more, but times are tough for everyone.”
Tarren nodded. “Thank you, once again, for your kindness, Obadiah. How much wood do you need split today?”
“Six of the big blocks should be more than enough for today, Tarren.”
Tarren walked out of the bakery and walked over to Obadiah’s wood pile behind the bakery. He set the burlap sack onto the the ground next to the building. He took his shirt off, revealing a thin body. His skin was stretched tight over well defined muscles, and he had a scar that ran down his bruised right arm, which was slightly smaller than his left. He had bruises on his ribs too, which were visible on his chest. He threw his shirt on top of the sack and picked up a medium-sized block of wood, and set it on top of a large uprooted stump with cuts crisscrossing its surface.
Tarren picked up the axe leaning against the bakery, raised it over his head and swung it down into the block of wood. The axe embedded itself into the block and Tarren yanked it out. He continued like that for a while, losing himself in the rhythm of swinging the axe and working it free again. Before too long he had a nice pile of wood blocks sitting next to the stump. Tarren leaned the axe up against the building and picked up his shirt and reached for the sack of bread, but stopped when he heard someone shouting from further on in the market.
He walked back to the street in front of the bakery, and saw who was shouting. Herman Jenster, another baker who had a stand set up in the market place, was surrounded by four Aquore Enforcers, the government security force on Aquore. The one in the group who was in charge, marked by the yellow star on the shoulder of his white uniform, pushed Herman. “You owe more taxes, old man. We were kind enough to allow you to set up a stand in this market place, it’s only fair that you reward us for this kindness.”
Herman pleaded, “Please, I already paid my taxes for this month! If I give you anymore I won’t be able to afford to buy ingredients to make more bread! Then the government will lose the income they make from my business!”
The Enforcer grabbed a loaf of bread from Herman’s stand. Herman reached for the loaf of bread but another of the Enforcers grabbed him and held him back. “The taxes are going up for everyone. It wouldn’t be fair for you to not have to pay and everyone else to. Besides, if you can’t afford to stay open it will just make room for a different business to take your place.” The Enforcer took a bite from the loaf of bread. His face twisted up in disgust and he spit the piece he had in his mouth onto Herman’s table and threw the rest of the loaf onto the ground. “If you are selling garbage like this maybe it would be better for you to go out of business!” The Enforcer stomped his foot down onto the loaf of bread. The other enforcers laughed.
Tarren threw his shirt onto the ground and ran at the enforcers. Tarren growled and tackled the Enforcer that had stomped the bread into the ground. The enforcer grunted when Tarren landed on top of him. “That was perfectly good bread! You bunch of dalks! There are kids that go to bed hungry every night and you just waste food like that!” Tarren punched the enforcer in the face with his left arm.
The Enforcer struggled to bring his arms up to fight back, but Tarren’s legs pinned the Enforcers arms to his side. The Enforcer glared up at Tarren, blood flowing from his nose. “Get this shantz off of me!” Tarren pulled his right arm back to give the Enforcer another punch, but one of the other Enforcers slammed the butt of his spear into the side of Tarren’s head. Tarren fell off of the Enforcers, leader and pulled his hands up to this head. The three standing Enforcers surrounded Tarren and started kicking him and beating him with their staffs. Tarren grunted with each blow, covered his head with his hands and curled up in a ball.
The Enforcer that Tarren had tackled finally got back up to his feet. “Hold!” The other Enforcers stopped beating on Tarren, and their leader walked up to Tarren. “Let this be a lesson to you for the next time you think about attacking an Enforcer.” He gave Tarren another kick to the ribs. The Enforcer walked up to Herman’s stand once more. “We’ll be back later, and you better have what you owe or that,” he pointed at Tarren, “will be you!” The Enforcer turned and Stomped off into the marketplace. “Make way for the Aquore Enforcers!” The other enforcers followed after him.
Herman walked over and knelt down by Tarren’s side. “Thank you for coming to my defense. Are you badly injured?”
Tarren looked at Herman and attempted a smile, but it turned into more of a grimace with his lip split, blood running from his nose and one of his eyes beginning to swell up. “Please, they’re done worse to me before. Big cowards, I could have taken them if they had come at me one at a time. Wasn’t very fair of them to all come at me at once like that.”
Herman shook his head. “You are either very brave, or very foolish. I am thinking foolish since this was all over a loaf of bread.”
Tarren started to push himself up to his feet. “The Enforcers and I have more of a history than that. Besides, I know a lot of kids that would have loved to have had that loaf of bread.” Tarren held his hand to his head and looked at the dirt covered loaf of bread and snorted. “They still would fight each other for it.”
Herman walked back over to his stand and grabbed two loaves of bread and handed them to Tarren. “Here, I know it isn’t much but maybe they would enjoy this?”
Tarren bowed his head to Herman as he accepted the loaves from him. “Thank you, I know they will appreciate this very much.” Tarren walked back to Obadiah’s bakery to gather his belongings.
Obadiah stood in front of his shop shaking his head at Tarren. “That was a very foolish thing to do, Tarren! You are lucky to still be alive!”
Tarren set the loaves on the ground and pulled his shirt back over his head. “Please, Obadiah, I’m certain I’ll get enough of a lecture from Eugene when I get back to the orphanage. Besides, it got me a little more food for the kids.”
Obadiah frowned. “You accepted those two loaves from Herman? I feel sorry for the poor children who have to eat that. I may be able to spare a fresh loaf for you.” Obadiah patted Tarren on the shoulder. “That was a very brave thing you did, but you need to stop taking so many risks. Earth is certain to send an inspector out here someday, and then things will get straightened out here. We just need to survive until then.”
Tarren shook his head. “Sorry, Obadiah, I’m not about to sit around hope that our problems will get fixed, I plan on doing something about them.”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Wednesday when I will publish part two, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page for updates on the stories here: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read.